Umm Muhammed Umar
Radio Islam spoke to the Council on American Islamic Relation’s Deputy Director, Brother Edward Ahmed Mitchell. Brother Edward is also the vice president of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers, in the US.
Israel has once again shown its heavy handedness, and its ill intent in Gaza, in the killing of civilians, including children. Brother Edward said that when the Israeli government started this latest cycle of violence, CAIR had condemned it. He said, “As you know, they killed a five-year-old girl when they blew up an apartment building, along with several other civilians.” He said, “We condemned that violence, and called on President Biden to do the same. Obviously, the violence continued for several days, and before the ceasefire was reached, the White House did not condemn what the Israeli government did.” The White House had simply called for calm, and emphasized their belief that the Israeli government had the right to ‘defend itself’. Brother Edward said, “The Israeli government was not defending itself from anything – they started the violence.” He added, “at this point we are not surprised; this has been the playbook of our government when it comes to violence against Palestinians in Gaza for years and nothing has really changed in that regard.”
Separately, there has been an attack at a mosque in Patterson in New Jersey. There have reportedly been a number of attacks on Masaajid in New Jersey, which is located alongside New York, in recent years. New Jersey has a very large Muslim population. They are, according to Brother Edward, a very influential and active community. Brother Edward said, “And so when you have Muslim communities that are very active and visible, you end up seeing a backlash, so yes, they’re having some attacks there.” He added, “I believe there were rocks, or some other objects thrown through the glass at the mosque, causing some damage to property, but no one was hurt, Alhamdulillah.” The perpetrator(s) have not as yet been arrested. Brother Edward said that they needed need to be arrested, “Because if you’re willing to attack the house of worship, who knows what else you might be willing to do? How far are you willing to escalate things?”
Meanwhile, CAIR has offered a reward in the case of the shooting deaths of 4 Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brother Edward said that the police had arrested a suspect perpetrating the crimes, and sadly, he turned out to be a local Muslim. He said, “We do not know everything about the motive, it appears that this individual was targeting members of the Shia community, whom he blamed for something to do with his daughter’s marriage or her marriage to someone whom did not want her to marry.” He emphasized that it was unclear if that was the sole or primary motivation, but that the police allege that the perpetrator was a Muslim, and that he was targeting members of the Shia community. He said that, in response, Sunni and Shia leaders came together to express that sectarian violence had no place in the Muslim community or anywhere else. He said, “even though we do have differences theologically and, in some practices, that doesn’t mean that we cannot work together for the common good….with respectful disagreement and positive collaboration.” He said that while the situation was very difficult, and very disturbing on many levels, the violence had come to an end.
In the final story, two black Muslims have accused Alaska Airlines of having kicked them off their flight for texting, and talking, in Arabic. This is not the first time such an incident has occurred in the US, where a person has spoken differently from the rest of the passengers, or had been dressed differently, and a passenger complained, resulting in an entire family even, being kicked off the plane. Brother Edward said, “So this is a common problem that would be funny if it wasn’t so insulting and harmful. They were apparently texting, communicating, in Arabic. This worried somebody and the situation escalated to them getting kicked off the plane.” He added, “it’s ridiculous, right? It is not illegal to speak in Arabic on an airplane. It’s not illegal to solve equations and math on an airplane. It’s not illegal to wear a hijab on an airplane or to pray at an airport and yeah, all those things have gotten Muslims into trouble while flying.” Brother Edward said that just like driving while black in America can be dangerous, flying while Muslim, in America, can be dangerous as well. He said, “We’re glad these brothers are standing up for their rights, calling out Alaska Airlines. It’s 2022, and airlines at this point should understand that this is a problem, and it cannot continue to be a problem.”